Houston I. Flournoy, a Republican who narrowly lost to Jerry Brown in the 1974 California gubernatorial election, has died. He was 78.
Flournoy died Monday of heart failure while flying on a private plane from San Diego to Santa Rosa, said his son, David Flournoy. The elder Flournoy had suffered from emphysema.
Before running for governor, Flournoy served three two-year terms in the state Assembly starting in 1960. He was elected to the first of two terms as state controller in 1966, defeating Democrat Alan Cranston, who went on to become a U.S. senator.
In the 1974 gubernatorial race, Flournoy won 47.3% of the vote, to 50.2% for Brown. Flournoy blamed the loss on the public backlash against President Gerald Ford's pardon of ex-President Richard Nixon and a shortage of campaign money.
"He realized that basically to win in politics takes a lot of luck," David Flournoy said of his father's defeat. "You've got to be in the right place in the right time."
Born in New York on Oct. 7, 1929, Flournoy earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a doctorate in government from Princeton University, then served in the Air Force during the Korean War.
After leaving the controller's office in 1975, Flournoy returned to academia and was named dean of the Center for Public Affairs at USC.
Flournoy is survived by his son, two daughters, two grandchildren and a sister-in-law.
A full obituary will appear in Thursday's paper.